WOMEN IN POWER-BLAZING NEW TRAILS

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 05 - 11, 2007

The First Women Bank, under the dynamic leadership of its president Ms Zarine Aziz has generated the highest ever operational profits before tax of Rs. 256 million. The total advances portfolio grew by Rs.610 million and achieved highest position of Rs.3115 million while the Advances to Deposit ratio rose to 44.02%. Share holders equity also risen from Rs. 110 million to Rs. 935 million. Net asset Value Per share increased to Rs.32.95. Bank showed lowest infection Ratio of 1.5% and demonstrated high recovery rates of 98.5%.

Ms. Zarine Aziz President of the bank while addressing the 18th Annual Conference of FWBL in Karachi last week expressed her satisfaction over the performance of the Bank.

In fact, the Bank in it endeavors to provide quality service exclusively catering to the special needs of women in rural and urban areas. She said recently the online connectivity and ATM has further enhanced the performance and coverage of the Bank.

The theme of the conference was "Women in Power-Blazing new trails." Highlighting the conference theme she stated that it's immensely sync with the charter and mission of the bank. (Transforming the status of women from passive beneficiaries to dynamic agents of change) Emphasizing the needs of strategic planning Ms. Aziz said the world is changing faster and the changing environment requires of us to make our business strategies and innovation process more flexible, more agile and more participative.

The Conference was attended by the Senior Executives, Divisional Heads, Regional Heads and Branch Managers from all over the country. Strategies were discussed and line of action was formulated to achieve the December 2007 targets. Later Ms. Zarine Aziz awarded the management and staff for their outstanding performance in the year 2006.

Main Boulevard Branch Lahore was declared the overall Best Branch. Best Corporate Branch Award was given jointly to Sialkot and Blue Area Branch Islamabad. Best Small Branch award was given to Sukkur Branch.

Executive of the year award was given to Ms. Rukhsana Javed Chief Manager Main Boulevard Branch Lahore. Performance Excellence Award was given to Mr. Farooq Khan for his outstanding performance in launching of ATM and Online Banking.

Excellence Award for individual performance was given to Ms. Azra Aijaz, Ms. Atiya Zehra, Ms. Shabana Hakro, Ms. Sadaf Oad, Ms. Tahira Shafi, Mr. Afnan Ansari and Mr.Jahanzaib Azeemi. Certificate of Excellence were awarded to Ms. Farzana Aftab, Ms. Rizwana Shafiq, Ms. Sobia Qadir, Ms. Maryam Javed, Ms. Nosheen Masood, Ms. Asma Irshad, Ms. Shaheena Kamil, Ms. Nasira Younis, Ms. Hina Asif, Ms. Najia Majeed, Ms. Farhana Zafar, Ms. Yasmin Rizvi, Ms. Humaira Mubashir, Ms. Uzma Fayyaz, Ms. Zakia Ayub and Ms. Nudrat Jabeen.

PRESIDENT

Ms. Zarine Aziz, President/ CEO/ Chairperson Board of Directors, First Women Bank Ltd., and a Fellow Member of the Institute of Bankers Pakistan (IBP), is a banker par excellence and a mission driven leader for the socio-economic development of women of Pakistan.

Masters in Public Administration from the University of Punjab, Pakistan, Ms. Aziz started her career in the year 1979, as Officer Grade III in United Bank Limited and set a new precedence by becoming the "First Lady Manager", and eventually was elevated to manage a General Banking Branch. In 1989, after 10 years experience in banking industry she became the founding member of "First Women Bank Ltd.

When Ms. Aziz took over First Women Bank Ltd. as the President in May 2001, the bank was at the verge of collapse. The low capital base, high accumulated losses, negative equity, tax appeals, infected balance sheet were some of the major challenges facing the bank.

She took up the uphill task of organizational restructuring and successfully brought about a complete turnaround by the end of 2003. The period from June 2001 to December 2006 was an era of "Turnaround" for the First Women Bank Ltd. with significant growth recorded in all financial activities. The Bank accomplished the highest ever results in all key areas during the years 2001 2006 over the previous 11 years and continued to progress in all spheres of financial and operational activities.

The accumulated losses of RS 138 million as of Dec. 2000 were wiped out, in addition to absorbing impact of taxes, staff retirement benefits and other provisions of PKR 108 million, relating to prior years.

Deposits increased from RS 3.4 billion in 2000 to PKR 6.9 billion in 2006, reflecting growth of 105% over 2000. Advances increased from RS 604 million in 2000 to RS 3115 million in 2006, an increase of 416% over 2000.

Balance sheet size / Total Assets increased from PKR 3.9 billion to PKR 8.9 billion, growth of 132%.

Net-equity increased from PKR 110 million in 2000 to PKR 935 million in 2006, reflecting growth of 750% over 2000.

Net profit before tax increased from PKR 26 million in 2000 to PKR 256 million in 2006, The Bank earned highest cumulative pre-tax profit in the years 2001-2006 of PKR 1.2 billion an increase of 5940% over 11 years. In eleven years (1989-2000) pre-tax profits earned were PKR 291 million, with a loss of PKR 271 million; the net profit was PKR 20 million.

Net asset value per share increased from PKR 5.50 in 2000 to PKR 32.95 in 2005, reflecting growth of 499% over 2000.

Bank issued 20% Bonus Shares to the shareholders, which increased the paid up Capital from PKR 200 million to PKR 240 million. (PKR stand for Pakistani Rupee)

ACHIEVEMENTS

Commencement of Online Banking through all 38 branches network in March 2007.

The Bank wiped out its entire losses in year 2003, and became first exemplary semi-government organization that endured losses from its own resources, and rose up as profit bearing institution.

Automating the entire network of 38 branches of Bank, all over Pakistan. Acquiring fully integrated/tested software in March 2004.

Renewal of the Bank's collaboration with ILO/IPEC, on the project titled "Combating Child Labor "in the carpet weaving industry. The direction of this collaboration is Micro-credit, skill training to the women in carpet weaving industry and educating children in the carpet industry and community development. (July 2004)

Upgrading of the long and short term credit ratings of the Bank in November 2004, to "AA" and "A1+", respectively, which the bank has maintained till date. The ratings denote a very low expectation of credit risk emanating from a very strong capacity for timely payment of financial commitments. The ratings upgraded to AA by PACRA-demonstrating the Bank's sustainability and financial strength. (PACRA stands for Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited). Commending the Bank President's performance of the Bank, PACRA stated: Quote "The current Chief Executive/President was appointed on a three years term. At the expiry of her term, she has been given an extension for two years. The change of management under the leadership of the new president has provided the bank with the much needed strategic focus and formulation of proper risk evaluation and management systems necessary for viable operations in addition to strengthening the staff support." Unquote. (Press Release published in the News International on November 13, 2004)

Collaboration with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for training and capacity building of First Women Bank Ltd. employees. Collaboration with a Pakistan-Italian NGO "Depilex Smilegain" for re constructive surgeries of women victims suffering from domestic violence (acid and kerosene burnt). Re constructive surgeries were performed by world renowned re constructive surgeons. All women belonged to lower income group.

Launching Consumer Financing Schemes such as Auto Loans, Home Loans, and Loans for Consumer Durables. In addition, the Bank also re-launched Personal Loans for women and Loans for Businesswomen with higher credit ceilings and extra facility such as Financial Services Desk which offers free consultancy to women on Credit, Legal, Marketing, and Taxation issues. The idea behind launching consumer loans was primarily asset ownership for women.